“Escape to the Country”: increasing numbers of working professionals seek rural retreats in West Sussex

According to government figures, rural areas of the UK are witnessing “inward migration” of more than 60,000 a year with the majority of those coming from urban areas within the UK. The UK is the only developed economy in the world seeing the ‘urban to rural’ trend rather than the usual migration towards cities.

This escape to the country is being driven not only by those factors we are already aware of: a desire for more space with growing families or couples in retirement preferring a quieter lifestyle. However there is another socio-economic group migrating away from the cities - upwardly mobile professionals, who are able to benefit from improvements in rural infrastructure and in particular, information technology so that a career in the countryside is now a real option.

The government data for West Sussex supports this trend. According to the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), who classify West Sussex as ‘significantly rural’, over 40% of the county’s resident population and over half its businesses are located in rural areas.

The total population for West Sussex is predicted to reach 953,277 people in 2033, an increase of 146,377 (18%) people on the 2011 census population; the fastest growing geo-demographic group are ‘Successful professionals living in suburban or semi-rural homes’, who now account for 13.13% of households in West Sussex.

According to George Osborne, the improvements in rural information technology has resulted in economic diversity in many rural areas, enabling people to take advantage of a high quality of life in attractive surroundings.

Jennie Hancock of Property Acquisitions agrees with the reports. “While we are still seeing the familiar client demographic of London families moving to West Sussex, what has changed is the ability of the major breadwinner to live full time in the county. Previously it was a choice of the dreaded Monday to Friday London commute or renting a flat in the City during the week. Increasingly we are finding that prospective buyers are asking about broadband speeds, and with ever more data being streamed down the wires, the need for rural broadband speeds rivalling those of our towns and cities has never been greater.”

For advice on the best village locations for rural broadband, please call Jennie on 01243 531133 or email her at


Inheritance Tax Changes benefit 1200 homeowners in West Sussex

George Osborne’s 2015 Budget changes to the Inheritance Tax Threshold benefit 1200 homeowners with property for sale in West Sussex.

Due to rising house prices in recent years, increasing numbers of middle-class homeowners in London and the South East have been affected by Inheritance Tax. It is estimated that the number of properties qualifying for IHT had increased by 50% over the last 5 years. The new thresholds are thought to withdraw 20,000 properties nationwide from Inheritance Tax liability and that number could double over the next 5 years.

Figures reported by the Telegraph in 2014 revealed that the ten places where the most inheritance tax had been paid out were all in London and the South. Areas worst affected are those where a significant percentage of property wealth is owned by the over-65s and the report named Chichester in West Sussex as the area second most affected by IHT due to an ageing, less transient population, which owns 50% of the area’s housing wealth.

According to property price data* for West Sussex in July 2015, the change in Inheritance Tax liability will immediately benefit almost 1200 properties, representing 21% of the total 5700 currently listed for sale between £500,000 and £1m in West Sussex.

Couples who downsize in later years will also be eligible for an inheritance tax credit as long as the majority of the estate is left to children. This will enable pensioners to free up larger houses for younger growing families.

Jennie Hancock of Property Acquisitions in Chichester welcomes the changes as a boost for older homeowners worried about Inheritance Tax liability and looking to downsize. For expert advice on property values in the Chichester area, please call Jennie on 01243 531133 or email her at


Changes to the Inheritance Tax Threshold (IHT) explained

On July 8th Chancellor George Osborne announced an increase in the inheritance tax threshold to £1m for married couples and civil partners, who leave their home to children or grandchildren. This translates to a significant £140,000 tax saving on estates worth between £500k and £2m.

Previously, individuals could pass on a maximum of £325,000 and married couples a combined amount of £650,000, the threshold set since 2009, without incurring Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Any amount over the main residence thresholds incurs IHT at 40%. Chancellor George Osborne announced a phased annual increase starting with an additional £100,000 in 2017 to allow married couples and civil partners a £1million tax-free allowance by 2020.

The additional allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 for properties worth more than £2million. The additional nil-rate band will only be transferable on death and can be transferred between partners on the first death. It can only be used on assets, which include the family home or main residence.

Inheritance Tax Changes

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Residential Property Focus

Residential Property Focus

Residential Property Focus